Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Kwirk", Game Boy, 1989.

Just how do you depict a tomato on a greyscale screen? And how do you distinguish it from, say, a shotput or ball bearing? Or, heaven forbid, the finer distinction between, for example, an apple and an orange? In this case, you set him apart with "bad-boy" trappings, which I'll explore further in subsequent posts -- shades, a green mohawk (green hair perhaps not such an outlaw marker on a tomato) and sneakers -- casually left untied! I know, I probably wouldn't be able to make out those details on the screen either, so I suppose the artwork here establishes the talking points, tells our brain what we're supposed to be imagining when we play.

Kwirk's in a bit of a stew. His main squeeze, Tammy, has been trapped, and Kwirk's the only truckin' Tomato with a chance to rescue her. With Kwirk, you'll move bunches of blockers, outwit plenty of pits, and mash through many a maze. And just when one labyrinth seems to be licked... an even trickier one appears.
So put on your shades, get your thinker in gear and join the a-maze-ing Kwirk in his quest to solve this puzzling predicament. And remember, Tammy's only got one hope... you!
Coming soon for Game Boy: WIZARDS AND WARRIORS X: FORTRESS OF FEAR -- a brand new adventure with Kuros, the gallant knight warrior; and WWF SUPERSTARS -- featuring Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior and more in the best of WWF wrestling action.

It is perhaps extraordinary for a Game Boy game to get a big full-colour ad (I know, we've seen some from Konami, who presumably had big piles of cash to lie on and throw around) just because screenshots will invariably pale by comparison. I do like the way Kwirk is balancing his own game on the tip of his finger, but the geek in me regrets the missed opportunity for recursion, with the in-box Kwirk balancing a game on his finger, ad infinitum. But of course the box isn't advertising the game -- it is the game -- so that wouldn't make any sense. (It's important to keep a good handle on what makes sense when discussing the finer points of labyrinth-solving fruits.)
"Truckin'" is pretty retro '70s slang to be washing up in a game ad one year shy of the '90s. Although, come to think of it, Kwirk's posture in the ad is somewhat reminiscent of Robert Crumb's "Keep on Truckin'" characters ... in any case, whether or not the copywriters can get away with that, I think that they have overextended themselves in attempting to suggest that one can mash through a maze. Is the maze composed of boiled potatoes? (Actually... well, that would be one mother of a digression. A delicious, delicious digression.)
It seems unfair that Kwirk gets a highly individualistic, cool name, while his nominal raison d'quest gal pal gets saddled with a formulaic alliteration name (Tammy Tomato). Do you think there's any relation with the royal family from Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom? And why couldn't she be a cucumber or eggplant -- is inter-vegetable dating a jungle fever frowned upon in the Salad Kingdom? (Homogeneous masses of similar vegetables don't make for much of a salad!)
Also, this ad features perhaps the first time ever a semicolon was used to introduce a clause about a WWF Game Boy cartridge. Pro wrestling and correct punctuation: less strictly associated than you might think. (What do you think -- should "Ultimate Warrior" be prefaced with a capitalised "The" or not?) I suspect that "the best of WWF wrestling action" probably would not be found on the Game Boy, but maybe my cynicism is just blinding me. I do think the "also, we have other, totally unrelated games for sale" phenomenon seems more prevalent with Game Boy games than others.